BENGALURU: Irrespective of the impressive resume one has as a player or coach, handling two teams is a different ball game altogether. The situation becomes even more trickier if it deals with Indian women's hockey, where expectations have increased with their good showing at the Tokyo Olympics. Likewise, chief women's coach Janneke Schopman, who is handling both the junior and the senior women teams, is already experiencing the tough nature of the job.
Besides the many challenges, managing time for both teams is difficult. She has started working with both the teams at SAI, Bengaluru since September, initially with the junior team. A couple of weeks later, the seniors also joined, that is when the real challenge started.
"It is tough because it takes a lot of my time. This morning I started at eight and came off the field at 12:15, which is tough because it costs a lot of energy. At the same time what I am seeing is that the players take a lot of responsibilities themselves and it is one of our main themes. They are also responsible to make sure that the level of training is where it should be. My biggest challenge is to give the right energy and be available for both teams equally, which I must say is a challenge because there are only so many hours in a day," said Schopman in a virtual interaction on Tuesday.
No doubt, it is a tough ask for the former Dutch defender, but it has its fair share of advantages. Such a position would give the 44-year-old a great opportunity to have a closer look at junior players, who would be a great addition to the senior team in the near future.
This is exactly what makes the upcoming junior World Cup in South Africa next month is extremely interesting. It will be for the first time that Schopman will be able to see the juniors in action against elite teams like Argentina.
"When I joined the juniors I had not seen a lot of them. Actually, it was great for me as I stepped into the team fresh. For the juniors, it is a great opportunity to show me, and more importantly, show each other and themselves what they can do at this level. And of course, watching them play against teams like Argentina, Japan and Russia, will give me a great idea of where they are in their development and how quickly they can potentially join the senior team. There is a lot of potential in the group. We have to see how it works. But, definitely, there are a couple or so who can make the transition quickly."
India are in Pool C alongside defending champions Argentina, Japan and Russia. They have a good squad, which includes Tokyo Olympians Salima Tete, Sharmila Devi and Lalremsiami, with the latter appointed captain of the 18-member squad. "We did very well in the Olympics, created history. The junior team is also very good. We have played with seniors too, and learned with them. So we are confident of a good show, and we will win a medal," the skipper said.